My most-loved short story collections are those that offer hoards of enjoyment in small, fully contained pieces. Five-Carat Soul possesses this trait, as McBride shows excellent range across the collection. The voices he produces in each story are unique and satisfying. I particularly enjoyed the final tale, “Mr. P and the Wind,” told by animals and influenced by their communication with humans.
October 2017 Indie Next List
“Sometimes after I've read a great book by an author, I judge. When I picked up a copy of James McBride's new collection of stories, Five-Carat Soul, I was prepared to be disappointed; how could he top The Good Lord Bird? Was I ever surprised, in the best way possible! These stories have all the magnificent qualities of his National Book Award-winning novel: quirky, poignant, and hilarious characters amid myriad situations in life, and humanity at its most human presented in beautiful writing. A couple of multi-story combinations read like novellas, and satisfied my craving to know more about the most interesting of the characters. McBride has set the bar high once again.”
— Mamie Potter, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
Winter 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“These stories have a beating heart. With present voices and urgent pleas, James McBride dissects the dynamics of power and station. Each story is a keen call, an examination of who and where we are and how we got there. Whether we are young black boys, old Jewish men, little girls at the gates of the afterlife, lions, or the wind, McBride is writing breath and blood and visceral life into our stories.”
— Anne Hensley, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
One of The New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2017
“A pinball machine zinging with sharp dialogue, breathtaking plot twists and naughty humor... McBride at his brave and joyous best.” —New York Times Book Review
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, Deacon King Kong, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography.
The stories in Five-Carat Soul—none of them ever published before—spring from the place where identity, humanity, and history converge. They’re funny and poignant, insightful and unpredictable, imaginative and authentic—all told with McBride’s unrivaled storytelling skill and meticulous eye for character and detail. McBride explores the ways we learn from the world and the people around us. An antiques dealer discovers that a legendary toy commissioned by Civil War General Robert E. Lee now sits in the home of a black minister in Queens. Five strangers find themselves thrown together and face unexpected judgment. An American president draws inspiration from a conversation he overhears in a stable. And members of The Five-Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band recount stories from their own messy and hilarious lives.
As McBride did in his National Book award-winning The Good Lord Bird and his bestselling The Color of Water, he writes with humor and insight about how we struggle to understand who we are in a world we don’t fully comprehend. The result is a surprising, perceptive, and evocative collection of stories that is also a moving exploration of our human condition.
About the Author
James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award–winning The Good Lord Bird, the bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung, Miracle at St. Anna, and Deacon King Kong. He is also the author of Kill ’Em and Leave, a James Brown biography. A recipient of the National Humanities Medal in 2016, McBride is also a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
Praise for Five-Carat Soul:
“These brilliant miniatures display all of the rambunctious fearlessness of [McBride's] deeply empathetic imagination... Five-Carat Soul [is] a delight.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Brash, daring and defiantly original... [these] stories are bound to stay with readers for a very long time.” —NPR
“A furious joy drives these glimpses of brave lives in perilous places.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Serious fun.” —Newsday
“McBride is such an agile writer that each voice feels authentic and somehow familiar. …These are stories of and from the soul.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Unpredictable, exhilarating, and, often, hilarious. ... a wild and utterly delightful ride.” —BuzzFeed
“Poignant, imaginative, and 'literary' in the best sense of the word.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Funny, strange and touching. … McBride proves once again that he is a master conjurer of African Americana.” —Seattle Times
“McBride delivers pure gold... Five-Carat Soul shakes with laughter, grips with passion and oozes wisdom.” —Shelf Awareness (starred review)